A teacher from birth
"Good teachers are born to teach," Mary Lou Thornton says, sitting in her office, surrounded by books, photos and papers. Thornton, who teaches three Honors United States History classes and is the resource teacher for the Social Studies department, has been teaching for a long time. "I've been at Blair since 2004 or 2005. It's been such a long time I can't remember," she says laughing. During her time at Blair she has developed a reputation of being fun teacher with interesting classes.
Before coming to Blair, Thornton taught at Quince Orchard, Churchill and Sherwood. "I've always gravitated toward teaching. I like seeing the 'Aha' moment when someone finally understands something," she says on why she became a teacher.
Even as a child, teaching seemed to be something Thornton was meant to do. She recalls herself as a five-year old, forcing people into the basement for summer school. "I even had a blackboard," she recalls.
Teaching wasn't Thornton's first job however. After she graduated from high school, she went straight to working as a photographer for DuPont, an American chemical company. Afterwards, she went to the University of Delaware and majored in History and Sociology before pursuing a Master's Degree in Education at Towson.
Thornton was not a perfect student in high school. In fact she was not a very good student at all. "I was a terrible student. " she admits, "I have dyslexia and I was just one of those students who slipped through the cracks." In high school, Thornton skipped class a lot and was the person who knew all the places to hide in her school. That is why if someone skips her class, she makes sure she finds them. However, this doesn't happen very often since most her students think she is a great teacher. Talking about her past, Thornton jokes, "I think I'm consigned to live my life in high school because of how bad a student I was in high school."
Thornton's favorite thing about Blair is its diversity. "The student body is so diverse, it's like a mini UN. I love learning so many new things from my students," she says. And just as she loves learning from her students, her students love learning from her. "She's really awesome and knowledgeable," Sophomore Maria Yang, a former student says about Thornton, "She is able to bring humor to the class when we're talking about something serious."
Thornton has many fond memories of her time at Blair. One of her favorites is of a former student, who kept saying that she would sing at Thornton's wedding. "I would always reply no, no you can't sing at my wedding; you wouldn't even be at my wedding," Thornton says. During a pep rally one day, Thornton remembers stepping out for a moment and then hearing someone singing one of the best renditions of 'At Last', originally sung by Etta James, she had ever heard. Walking in to see who it was, she realized it had been her student who kept saying she would sing at her wedding. "I finally decided to let her sing at my wedding," Thornton says, "And so she did."
Outside of school, Thornton has many hobbies including gourmet cooking, gardening and playing softball. At the moment, Thornton is learning Mediterranean and Italian cooking. "I used to cook a lot of Indian and Thai food but it uses a lot of coconut milk which isn't very good for your health," she says.
Students can't wait to go to Thornton's class. With debates, movies, stories and projects, Thornton makes everything in US History interesting from political machines, to women's suffrage, to World War II, proving that she is what she says she is: born to stand in front of a group of students and teach them everything they need to know.
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